Settler Group Planning 3-story Building in Heart of Palestinian East Jerusalem Neighborhood

Ateret Cohanim hands eviction orders to Palestinian families and files for permits to build housing and expand a road leading to a Jewish enclave in Silwan.

Emil Salman

Ateret Cohanim, an organization that purchases properties in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem in order to settle Jews in them, has obtained an eviction order against a Palestinian family living in a building the organization now owns in the Batan al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.

The order from the Bailiff’s Office was issued just weeks after the organization filed two eviction requests against Palestinian families living in the area. More recently, Ateret Cohanim applied for permits to erect a new building and to expand a road leading to the Jewish settlement enclave there.

The organization has worked for decades to settle Jews in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter and in Silwan, and more recently has been trying to gain a foothold in Batan al-Hawa, a quarter that was home to Yemenite Jews about a century ago. Ateret Cohanim also maintains the unlawfully built apartment building known as Beit Yonatan, in which 10 Jewish families live. Another family lives in the nearby house known as Beit Hadvash.

About two months ago Ateret Cohanim took over half of the so-called Abu Nab building, named for the extended family that lived in it, and which once housed a synagogue for the Yemenite community. The family members apparently moved out voluntarily, after reaching an agreement with Ateret Cohanim.

About a week ago, members of the Abu Nab family living in the other half of the house received eviction orders, which could be implemented any day. They have refused to leave, despite being offered money to do so, according to them.

A few days ago the family erected a “protest tent” with help from foreign activists.

In recent months, eviction orders have been issued to two additional extended families, each with around half a dozen nuclear families.

A few days ago Ateret Cohanim also applied to erect a three-story building on a plot in the former Yemenite neighborhood belonging to a hekdesh, a traditional Jewish land-holding organization, which purchased it from the state.

It also applied for a permit to widen the road and built a small plaza in front of Beit Yonatan, in part so that armored vehicles purchased about two years ago by the Housing Ministry, which is responsible for the security of the Jewish enclave in Silwan, can turn around.

There have been no Palestinian objections to the plans for the plaze.

In a statement, Ir Amim, a left-wing advocacy organization, said: “Without the state, Ateret Cohanim could not have advanced its takeover. We call on the Jerusalem municipality to stop the continued construction of the settlements.”

Ateret Cohanim did not issue a response.